Americana troubadour checks into “Star Cafe” to chase his blues away in the company of the best of ’em.
“God protects songwriters and fools,” intones Chet O’Keefe in “Talking Kerrville Blues” at the close of his third album, and in this case there’s a reason for saving grace. Once the intimate strum of “Not Drunk Yet” has laid out the artist’s confusion with his inner turmoil set against outside-world optimism – and the confession that he indeed is a fool and, thus, is doubly protected – you feel for O’Keef as much as you could care for your friend.
Of course, Chet has someone else to watch over him if “Oh Angel” is anything to go by with its solemn piano but, as the mellifluous “Drinkin’ Day” suggests, O’Keefe’s peace of mind won’t be here for long. The title track may ramp up the quiet drama with a roughly cut electric solo, yet this kind of ragged romanticism is endearing, details such as a Craigslist reference on the country waltz of “True Love” bringing it all to life, while the brisk “Hick Tech(nology)” delicately mocks some nerds’ domestic ineptitude.
The ghosts of Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson’s songs haunting these tracks to enhance the stories of ordinary people, and “Blue Martin” finding good grief in the beauty of nature, there’s hardly a dull moment here. Because of artists like this, the world keeps spinning; that’s why God should protect him.